School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Sandra Battige


Well-being, Well-being Theory, Special Education Teacher, Experienced Special Education Teacher


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the well-being of experienced special education teachers (SETs) in southeastern, Virginia. Experienced SETs’ well-being is a relevant issue based upon the role-related stressors SETs grapple with daily. These stressors influence SETs’ attrition and the SET shortages which have impacted much of the United States. The theory guiding this study was the well-being theory introduced by Martin Seligman in 2011. This theory indicates that there are five elements of well-being that are required to flourish. These elements are positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. The central research question for this study aimed at how experienced special education teachers described their well-being. In this study, experienced SETs were defined as having at least four years of teaching experience. Convenience, purposeful, and snowball sampling were used to gather twelve participants. In seeking to answer the central research question, the five elements of well-being were explored through a variety of data collection methods, to include: semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and individual audio diaries. Using traditional transcendental phenomenological data analysis, the data were analyzed thematically and five themes were revealed. The five themes revealed were: students at the heart of practice, artful instruction, integral relationships, proactive footholds for tomorrow, and inescapable barriers. Efforts were made to enhance trustworthiness and to ensure ethical research practices. Through a discussion of the results, and the study’s limitations and delimitations, there were remaining practical, theoretical, and empirical implications, each underscoring the criticality of teacher well-being.